By Fred Edoreh
The planned urban and infrastructural renewal with flyovers and road expansions in Warri appears now to be just a foretaste of what Governor Sheriff Oborevwori has in stock for the development of Delta State.
Rising from the State Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, the government gave an overview of its budget plan for 2024 with indications of similar infrastructure re-development packages for various parts of the state and sectors of its economy.
The budget overview reveals a very realistic and purpose-driven approach to governance, with focus on care for the people, minding the challenges and needs of our present times.
“The people should expect new townships and massive road infrastructures with emphasis on quality,” revealed the State Commissioner for Economic Planning, Hon Sonny Ekadeyan.
Simply put, more towns, cities and communities across the districts of the state will enjoy a fair share of not just physical infrastructure but in quality and standard.
As Ekadeyan further revealed, health, food security and SMEs will receive priority attention.
This is reassuring because, as they say, health is wealth. Those who are lucky not to be visiting the hospitals may not appreciate this, but to think that beds in major public hospitals are often filled underscores the imperative of government investment to expand the capacity of this sector both in providing greater access and proximity to health care as well as in the standard of delivery.
The same goes for the planned priority investment in agriculture. It is common knowledge that both by the effect of subsidy removal, the increasing devaluation of the Naira and the general health of the national economy, inflationary trend has become so high and with huge negative impact on food stuff prices and supply.
In circumstances like this, the most important cushion for the people is to ensure food security.
“One of the ways to fight ravaging inflation is to make food available and affordable.” This is the thinking of Gov Oborevwori and it is very correct.
As such, the government is geared to invest in food crops production, including rice and other staples to ensure food sufficiency.
The other arm of the plan is providing funding support for small and medium scale enterprises at single digit interest rate.
For sure, this is where majority of the population is engaged and supporting their businesses to thrive will guarantee a healthier and more active economic life.
Pegged at N714.4 billion, the 2024 budget would be highest in the state’s budgetary history. It is about N156b higher, a 22 percent increase over the 2023 budget which stood at N561.8b.
The provision of N397b for capital expenditure is about N71b and 22 percent increase over the previous year which was N326.6b.
The N81b increase on recurrent expenditure, from N235.2b in 2023 to N316b for 2024, is also very understandable given the need to keep public service well motivated and the institutions efficient and effective on delivery, in line with the realistic reforms promised in the MORE Agenda.
With these, the development outlook in Delta State, going into the new year is positive, ceteris paribus, and when sustained through Gov Oborevwori’s first tenure, it portends brighter economic future and improved standard of living for Deltans.
(Fred Edoreh is Senior Special Assistant on Media to the Governor of Delta State)